SoCal in Season
Venice Beach turned the page when Abbot Kinney Boulevard, a ramshackle stretch of empty brick buildings and beach cottages, began to gentrify.
In came galleries, restaurants, cafés, bars, and boutique retailers. Each renovated venue retained the community’s bo-ho brogue while adding its own distinct flavour to the accent. Abbot, a new face in Sukhumvit 31’s impressive dining community, has borne the trend set in motion in America, introducing the vibrant cuisine of this Californian melting pot to keen palates in Bangkok.
The cuisine of southern California can be hard to identify. It doesn’t have the familiarity of Indian or Japanese. What it is depends on what’s fresh at the moment. Farm-to-table is a factor. So are organic ingredients. This explains why Chef Rene Michelena, whose manifold awards could decorate a three-story building, uses mostly in-season produce as well as fish and meat procured from sources that leave minimal carbon footprints. Local goods yield vibrant taste.
The oysters are a shining example of the house philosophy. Fine de Claire or Gigas: the variety served depends on the day (B340). What doesn’t change is the presentation. Three shucked shells arrive on a bed of smooth, gray stones with a slice of lemon, cocktail sauce laced with horseradish, and a bouquet of greens.
Chef Michelena’s plates look bold and inviting, never pretentious. The Tigress (B298) — barbequed prawns with corn custard, roasted candy stripe beets, and red pepper sauce — is suffused with colour, the garden of yellow, magenta, and peach almost too beautiful to disturb.
Heartier meals hang in the balance of technical skill. The smoky half-chicken with spinach and cherry tomatoes (B475) retains no small amount of juice, its skin redolent of sherry wine and infused with a little bite, indicating the perfect amount of time in the oven. Desserts like the Hyper Multi Nut Pie (B295), a twist on the American classic pecan pie with almonds and macadamia nuts in the filling and caramel-bourbon ice cream as a partner, is reminiscent of a holiday meal, and yet light enough to enjoy on a cool evening with twilight filtering through Abbot’s half-domed atrium.
The cocktails hold true to the theme, too. The Man from the South (B330) blends bourbon, averna, and branca menta with vanilla, apple juice, lemon, and orange bitters. It sounds intimidating, but the heat of the booze only lingers and citrus bursts on the tongue. It’s pure Abbot Kinney, southern California in a cocktail glass — all fresh, all natural, and all new.
Sukhumvit Soi 31 | 0 2258 6250 | abbotbangkok.com